Church asks new govt to protect Goa *National Consultation on Grass-Root Ecumenism

March 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Election, Goa, Government, National, newsletter-india, State

Manohar Parrikar, New Goa CMGoa, March 10, 2012: The Catholic Church in Goa has urged the state’s new government to protect environment, ban illegal mining and empower local civic bodies.

The government should make several steps to protect forest, paddy fields, mangroves, beaches and villages that are “part of an invaluable and truly irreplaceable heritage” of Goa, the Goa archdiocese’s Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP) said soon after Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar took the oath.

In the recent elections, Parrikar’s Bharatiya Janata Party won 24 seats in the 40-member state legislative assembly along with its ally, the Maharashtra Gomantak Party.

In a statement enumerating the Church’s expectations from the government, CSJP executive secretary Fr. Maverick Fernandes says firm steps are necessary for a small state such as Goa where fragile and limited land faces “inappropriate and indiscriminate developmental pressure.”

The council called for a five-year moratorium on sale and conversions of land to help review its carrying capacity and implement necessary development controls.

It also wants the government to ban on illegal mining and appoint an independent commission to review existing mining activity in the state.

The Church wants the government to empower local self-governing institutions in a time-bound manner. It urged the government to enact laws, policies, and programs to address corruption, alienation of traditional communities, right to ownership of resources, depleting natural resources, loss of people’s rights and identity, discrimination against minorities.

The Church council also urged that the government to reformulate the state’s Regional Plan 2021 with people’s participation and protect the Goan people’s traditional livelihoods and preserve their culture and environment.

Another demand is to set up of human rights and minority rights commissions for the state.

– timesofindia

National Consultation on Grass-Root Ecumenism

 

ecumenismTamil Nadu, March 09, 2012: Jointly organized by the National Council of Churches in India & Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary, Madurai

The Church as the ‘Body of Christ’, is called upon to accomplish the vision of Jesus Christ, expressed in his High Priestly prayer, “that they all may be one” (John 17:21). This refers to the journey towards “one flock and one shepherd” and also includes the integration of the whole creation. The efforts of ecumeism as church union movements have borne phenomenal fruits since the beginning of the 20th century through the Missionary Movement, Faith & order Movement and the Life & Work Movement. In India it has brought together the conflicting communities and traditions under the banner of Christ’s love. Further, similar ecumenical efforts have resulted in various organic, federal and conciliar church unions at the global and local levels.

STATEMENT

The Church as the ‘Body of Christ’, is called upon to accomplish the vision of Jesus Christ, as expressed in his High Priestly prayer, “that they all may be one” (John 17: 21). This refers to the journey towards “one flock and one shepherd”  and also includes the integration of the whole creation.

The efforts of ecumenism as church union movements have borne phenomenal fruits since the beginning of the 20th century through the Missionary Movement, Faith & Order Movement and the Life & Work Movement. In India it has brought together the conflicting communities and traditions under the banner of Christ’s love. Further, similar ecumenical efforts have resulted in various organic, federal and conciliar church unions at the global and local levels.

However, these ecumenical endeavours at the macro level seem to have bypassed the efforts and significance of ecumenism at the micro level. It is in this context that the National council of Churches in India along with the Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary has organized a national consultation on the theme “Grass-Root Ecumenism in India Today” at the Rural Theological Institute, Madurai during 26th – 29th February 2012.

As participants of this consultation, representing different Church traditions and Organizations, we

1. Affirm
a. That the twin objectives of Ecumenism are (i) Ecumenism for the divided Church and (ii) Ecumenism for the whole of Creation, and that the efforts in India till date toward this have contributed positively toward ‘OIKUMENE’, not as homogenization but harmonization.
b. That the Grass-Root communities shall be basic stake-holders of Ecumenism in efforts toward Unity not only of Christians but of the whole of Humanity and Creation.

2. Recognize
a. That there exist ecclesial, liturgical and doctrinal differences among various Church traditions, which often divide us.
b. That the way to move forward in the Ecumenical pilgrimage is to actualize here and now, the Kingdom values of unity and peace, by witnessing Christ through our acts of justice and righteousness.
c. That the Grass-Root Ecumenism ought to participate in the struggles for the  rights of people, including the marginalized, the widows, the aged, the otherwise-abled, the transgender, the People Living with HIV & AIDS, the Women, the Youth and the Children, considering them as the subjects and not as the objects.
d. That the grass root ecumenism ought to take seriously Eco-justice and engage in the struggles for Eco-justice.
e. That there are immense sources and resources to foster ecumenism within various church traditions and manifested in the ways of life and celebrations of grass-root which should be captured and documented to be preserved as well as shared.

3. Confess
a. That the race for power, position and possession, divisions within the Church and our limited understanding of Ecumenism have often hindered the fostering of Ecumenism.
b. That we have often have joined hands with the socio-economic and religio-political structures and forces that systematically and systemically exploit and divide the grass-root communities like Dalits, Tribals/Adivasis and Fisher-folk. Further, in whatever efforts of Ecumenism that we were involved, we are  concerned more on what we would earn than what we could offer.

4. Call upon
a. The churches to transcend ecclesial, liturgical and doctrinal differences in order to engage meaningfully in the missio-dei.
b. The churches to move from the comfortable centers of power to the demanding and disturbed peripheries of human existence, to make ecumenism relevant. Further, the churches have to become channels of peace and abundant life, for which we need to practice ‘kenosis’ – self-emptying – and should have the courage to cross boundaries.
c. The Churches to engage in action oriented solidarity with people discriminated on the basis of Caste, Class, Region and Gender and for this to network with the civil societies and peoples’ movements.
d. The churches to condemn and not engage in any acts that promote religious fundamentalism, exclusivism and fanaticism, but rather to consider all as created in the image of God. Rather we need to foster the cultures of ‘listening’ ‘sharing’ and ‘agreeing to disagree’.
e. The churches to constantly build up a second line leadership who would uphold the spirit of ecumenism at the Grass-Root level.
f. The churches to initiate ‘Ecumenical Pilgrimages’ to other ‘denominations’ and traditions and also mutual exchange programmes including pulpit exchanges, in order to learn from each-other and worship together and value indigenous cultures
g. The churches to theologically equip the congregations and especially the children and youth, using various modes of communication, to respect and honour people belonging to sister traditions and faiths.

For the Statement Committee

Rt. Rev. Yakub Soreng                                                         Rev. Dr. G. D. V. Prasad
Convener, Statement Committee                                    Secretary, Statement Committee

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